These legends of the deep are ancient and elusive. They are the keepers of balance in our oceans. Refined over millions of years, their powers are unique and together they ensure the stability of our world’s life support: the oceans.
Celebrate this World Oceans Day by assembling the SuperSharks! Download all 10 playing cards, and find out how you can help them save our seas here.
Species: White shark, Carcharodon Carcharias
The unstoppable force of the ocean. She is perfectly adapted for precision strikes on her prey. At over 1000 kg, she can power through the water at speeds of up to 40 km/h. These bursts allow her to take prey like seals completely by surprise, often erupting more than 3 m into the air in the process. A true apex predator, GREAT WHITE can feed on anything from tuna to seals and dolphins, regulating food webs from the top.
Species: Oceanic manta ray, Mobula birostris
With the largest brain of all fishes, MANTA truly is the mastermind of our oceans. Without a barb like other rays, he is a gentle, social giant that sustains his bulk and mighty intellect solely from plankton – tiny plants and animals that he filters out of the water using special rakers in his gills. Thought to exhibit true self-awareness, he has an unrivalled power of mind that consolidates his position as the most intelligent of all sharks and rays.
Species: Angel shark, Squatina squatina
ANGEL is the ultimate covert agent – her stealth ability is unrivalled. She has the power to effortlessly blend with her surroundings: with a flick of her fin she is covered in sand, and lies patiently in wait to strike unsuspecting prey (fish, squid). She may wait for days at a time without moving but, within a tenth of a second, she catches prey in a lightning-speed strike – and it didn’t even know ANGEL was there.
Species: Great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran
There’s no hiding from HAMMER; she will find you. Her bizarre, hammer-shaped head (or ‘cephalofoil’) maximises the surface area for her electroreceptive pores (ampullae of Lorenzini), allowing her to home in like a metal detector on prey such as rays that are hidden beneath the sand. Moreover, HAMMER can then use her hammer to literally pin her prey to the ground. And do a pinpoint 180° turn… And see in a 360° arc… She is the epitome of shark adaptation.
Species: Tiger shark, Galeocerdo cuvier
TIGER is a formidable ambush predator, with highly specialised teeth that he can use to saw through anything – turtle shells, dugongs, even whale carcasses. It’s a key adaptation for eating anything that’s tough, or bigger than he is. He is not the most discerning of predators, with an incredibly diverse diet that is often politely referred to as ‘cosmopolitan’. He is an ocean traveller, migrating thousands of kilometres and connecting food webs across ocean basins.
Species: Pelagic thresher shark, Alopias pelagicus
THRASHER is elusive and mysterious, often lurking at depth but capable of striking from the shadows with devastating speed. Unlike any other shark, she has a whip-like tail at least as long as her body that she can crack over her head to stun fast-moving prey. Striking at speeds of up to 130 km/h, its tip thrashes prey like sardines and renders them completely immobile, allowing THRASHER to consume them at her leisure.
Species: Shortfin mako shark, Isurus oxyrinchus
Capable of a top speed of more than 60 km/h, MAKO is quite simply the fastest shark alive. With a sleek, torpedo shape and thousands of tiny tooth-like scales called denticles, he minimises drag and is perfectly streamlined. Unlike most other sharks, MAKO can keep his muscles 7–10 °C warmer than the surrounding water (‘endothermy’), which allows them to work quickly and efficiently. Combined, these attributes make his acceleration unparalleled in sharks and rays – there’s no escape once his sights are set.
Species: Largetooth sawfish, Pristis pristis
The longest of the super sharks, SAW is actually a type of ray and his saw, or rostrum, alone can reach 1.6 m long. Used as a weapon to impale prey, the rostrum is so hydrodynamic it doesn’t even disturb the water around it as it silently slices through – there’s absolutely no warning of an incoming precision strike. SAW can also occupy both fresh and salt water, and has been found more than 1000 km up rivers.
Species: Southern stingray, Hypanus americanus
STING is a master of defence. A specially adapted barb on his tail is serrated and laced with venom and, like a scorpion, he lashes out with it when threatened. Normally found cruising the sandy flats of lagoons in search of small fishes, worms and crustaceans while trying to remain inconspicuous, STING has no qualms about defending his personal space. He’s also a dab hand at hiding under sand, but could probably learn a trick or two from ANGEL.
Species: Epaulette shark, Hemiscyllium ocellatum
SPOT has a unique power beyond any other shark – she can walk on land! Using her fins to effectively crawl over the reef, SPOT can forage for crustaceans and worms without competition. Even with no water to carry oxygen over the gills, she is capable of surviving hours with little to no oxygen without any adverse impact on brain activity. Her large shoulder spots, or epaulettes, are thought to resemble eyes and may help to deter predators.
Find out how you can help the SuperSharks here.
Download the cards to print out here.